I spend every Tuesday with my 93 year old mother. The lunch bill is always handed to me; the wine is offered to me for approval. In her presence, her doctors’ ask me what symptoms she’s experiencing. And then there was the time I pulled a realtor outside to ask him to, PLEASE, address his questions and explanations to my mother-- because we’re talking about HER house.
There’s a pervasive cultural assessment that all elderly people are weak, feeble-minded and just taking up space. Not the case for my mother, or her friends. They don’t deserve the blanket assessment just because they use a walker or need to rest in the afternoon.
It’s not death or frailty and infirmity that scare me. It’s the prospect of becoming invisible. More precisely, it’s the probability of having the truths about life that I’ve not just learned --but earned -- predecease me. Said another way, I fear an ever dwindling audience for the story only I can tell.
My vote is that we strengthen our conviction that we don’t have to fade as we age. We don’t have to still our voices. We have stories to tell -- stories of conquest and defeat, stories of guts and tenderness, stories of dead-end paths and soaring flights to places of wonder.
We have to believe first to rescue our credibility after we cross over the culturally-imposed age limit. I say we refuse to participate. I say we not only stop and acknowledge our elders, but we stay and listen to their stories. So far, I’ve been surprised and enlightened by what I hear. Do you have a story to share?